NASA’s mammoth next-generation rocketship is set for its long-awaited debut launch on an unscrewed.
six-week test flight around the moon and back, inaugurating the first mission of the Artemis program.
The two-stage, 32-story-tall Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and its Orion crew capsule are due for blast-off from the NASA Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, during a two-hour launch window which opens at 8:33 am EDT (12:33 pm GMT).
The first Artemis 1 mission is intended to put the 5.72 million pound space vehicle through its paces in a demanding demonstration flight, pushing its design limits, before NASA deems it worthy enough to carry astronauts to the moon.
Billed as the world’s most powerful, complex rocketship, the SLS represents the most significant new vertical launch system NASA has built since its Saturn V operated during the Apollo moon program in the 1960s and ‘70s.
The rocketship was slowly trundled to historic Launch Pad 39B earlier this month after weeks of final preparations and multiple ground tests. Last week, NASA officials completed their flight readiness review declaring all systems aboard the SLS were “go for launch.”